How does a laser work?

How does a laser work - Basics

In the following video, we will give you a brief overview of the operating principle and the structure of a laser.

The term 'laser'

LASER is an acronym which stands for 'Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation'. Lasers amplify light by absorbing radiation energy and laser radiation is generated by a laser source. For this, concentrated energy is supplied to a crystal rod (solid-state laser) or a special gas mixture (gas laser). This energy can be supplied in the form of light (flash lamps or diode laser) or by electric discharge (Comparable to a fluorescent lamp). The crystal rod or the laser active gas is arranged between two mirrors, generating a light resonator that directs the laser light in a specific direction and amplifies it. A defined percentage of the laser light is emitted through the partially transmissive mirrors and is available for working the material.

Technical structure of a laser

All lasers consist of three components:

  1. An external pump source
  2. The active laser medium
  3. The resonator

The pump source guides external energy to the laser.

The active laser medium is located on the inside of the laser. Depending on the design, the laser medium can consist of a gas mixture (CO2 laser), of a crystal body (YAG laser) or glass fibers (fiber laser). When energy is fed to the laser medium through the pump, it emits energy in the form of radiation.

The active laser medium is located between two mirrors, the "resonator". One of these mirrors is a one-way mirror. The radiation of the active laser medium is amplified in the resonator. At the same time, only a certain radiation can leave the resonator through the one-way mirror. This bundled radiation is the laser radiation.

Laser beam characteristics

Laser light can be highly collimated by using a focus lens. A very high energy density is generated in the focus of the laser beam, which is used for melting or evaporating material. Using suitable optics (mirrors), laser light can be directed and reflected, without any deterioration in strength even over considerable distances. Positioning systems (laser plotters) or galvanometer scanners are used as movement systems, resulting in a universal and wear-free tool (since the laser beam will never become blunt).

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